Thomas Chippendale: Britain's Most Celebrated Furniture Designer

Thomas Chippendale: Britain's Most Celebrated Furniture Designer

July 15, 2018

Thomas Chippendale (1718 – 1779) was a London cabinet-maker and furniture designer in the mid-Georgian, English Rocco, and Neoclassical styles. In 1754 he published a book of his designs, The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director. His superior designs were regarded as reflecting the current London fashion for furniture for that period and were widely copied by other cabinetmakers.

The Diana and Minerva Commode, Harewood House.

A detail of the Diana and Minerva Commode which, with its intricate ivory inlay, elegant lines and drawers that whisper shut is often referred to as Chippendale's greatest single work.

A splendid Chippendale's satinwood and marquetry secretaire, from the State Bedroom suite at Harewood House

Another magnificent commode from the same suite (above) at Harewood House.

One of a pair of giltwood oval mirrors, supplied by Chippendale in 1773 for the State Bedroom at Harewood House. 

Harewood House, the State Bedroom. Two of a set of eighteen George III period giltwood open armchairs supplied by Thomas Chippendale for the house.

Harewood House, the State Bedroom. Chippendale’s magnificent State Bed, one of his most extraordinary creations, and one of the most expensive ones: Chippendale charged Lord Harewood £250 for it, and further £150 for three mattresses in 1773.

Harewood House, an outstanding Thomas Chippendale's commode, in the French taste.

Striking grain and superbly crisp carving.

Chippendale's elaborate Rococo bras drawer handle.

The 'French' scrolled legs were typical for Chippendale's Rococo furniture.

The best examples of Chippendale's furniture often featured these distinctive brass keyhole escutcheons.

Harewood House, The State Dining Room. The superb ormolu mounted Neoclassical serving-table (one of a pair), and the magnificent wine cooler are among the finest pieces ever made by Chippendale's firm.

Chippendale's magnificent mahogany and ormolu-mounted wine cooler at Harewood House. 

Harewood House, The Music Room. Part of a set of eighteen George III period giltwood open armchairs by Thomas Chippendale. Originally gilt and upholstered in green silk damask, they were invoiced on November 12, 1773: "Cabriole Arm'd Chairs very richly Carved in the Antique Manner and gilt in Burnished Gold Stuff’d & Covered with your Damask". In 1851 the whole suite, including the two sofas and a pair of bergeres from the Yellow Drawing Room suite, was re-upholstered with Aubusson tapestry; six chairs (now in State Bedroom) have been recovered in green silk damask.

Harewood House, The Music Room. One of a set of eighteen George III giltwood open armchairs by Thomas Chippendale.

Harewood House, The Gallery. One of a pair of George III giltwood mirrors by Thomas Chippendale, c. 1778. Each glass is flanked by caryatids holding flower-swags surmounted by three painted ovals and an urn, the base with rams’ masks and swags. The painted roundels are similar, if smaller in scale, to the ones found on the four pier glasses (reflected), known to have been made for this room.

Harewood House, The Gallery. A set of seven George III carved giltwood and painted pelmets by Thomas Chippendale, the Younger, Chippendale’s crowning achievement in The Gallery. The wood is superbly carved to imitate heavy red fabric with gold fringe.

Harewood House, The Gallery. A fine example of Chippendale's signature carved giltwood girandoles in the Chinese taste (one of a pair). A delightful mix of the asymmetrical Rococo and Chinese motifs.

A Chippendale's most elegant cream and green painted side chair, one of a suite, and one of a pair of similarly painted torcheres in the neoclassical taste, supplied for Harewood House. 

An elegant Chippendale's parcel gilt and green painted fish bowl stand in the neoclassical taste at Harewood House.

A delightful detail of a Chippendale's mahogany bookcase at Harewood House

Harewood House, the Old Library. A painted armchair by Chippendale, circa 1771, described in an inventory of 1795 as ‘8 blue painted Cabriole Chairs covered in yellow Morocco leather’.

Harewood House, the Hall. Although not listed in Chippendale’s bill, this magnificent set of eight painted hall chairs, designed to match the grandeur of Adam's Hall, was almost certainly supplied by his firm.